German: Kirche in Not
Aid to the Church in Need logo (2018).
|Founder||Werenfried van Straaten|
|Founded at||West Germany|
|Type||pastoral aid organization|
|Cardinal Mauro Piacenza|
Aid to the Church in Need (German: Kirche in Not, Italian: Aiuto alla Chiesa che Soffre) is an international Catholic pastoral aid organization, which yearly offers financial support to more than 5,000 projects worldwide. It aims to help Christians in need wherever they are repressed or persecuted and therefore prevented from living according to their faith.
Aid to the Church in Need's General Secretariat and Project Headquarters is in Königstein, Germany. With 23 national offices, Aid to the Church in Need provides aid to Catholic communities in more than 140 countries around the world.
The roots of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) go back to the time after World War II. As Europe lay shattered, millions of people were fleeing, the majority were homeless and tormented by hunger. This also affected those expelled from East Germany. For the Dutch priest Father Werenfried van Straaten the Stunde Null was the starting point of his life's work. In 1947 he founded Aid to the Eastern Priests, which shortly after became the aid organisation, Aid to the Church in Need. His relief organisation provided food and clothes for millions of East German refugees. In his appeals he preached compassion and reconciliation, and eventually encouraged many people to support the cause. Many supporters donated goods and food, rather than money; sides of pork were often donated, and van Straaten became known as the 'Bacon Priest'. The initial goal was to aid refugees who fled or were expelled from Eastern Europe in the wake of the Second World War, many of them Catholic.
In June 2002 the charity was described by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope, then Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) as “a gift of Providence for our time”. He stated that Aid to the Church in Need had “...turned out to be one of the most important Catholic charities... It is working in a worthwhile manner all over the world. “Our world is hungering and thirsting for witnesses of the risen Lord, for human beings who pass on the Faith in word and deed as well as for human beings who stand by those in need.”
During his pontificate, in December 2011, Pope Benedict XVI recognised the importance of Aid to the Church in Need’s work by elevating the charity to a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church. At the same time, the Pope appointed the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, to the position of President of the Foundation.